United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
TINA L. WALLACE PLAINTIFF
CITY OF JACKSON AND CHIEF LEE VANCE, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY DEFENDANTS
P. JORDAN. III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
City of Jackson, Mississippi, and Chief Lee Vance seek
summary judgment on the employment-discrimination claims of
Tina Wallace, who served as Deputy Chief of Patrol Operations
at the Jackson Police Department (“JPD”). For the
reasons explained below, the Court finds the motion should be
granted in part and denied in part.
Facts and Procedural History
an African-American female, was removed from her position as
Deputy Chief in 2015, following an investigation by JPD's
Internal Affairs Division (“IAD”). JPD accused
Wallace of pressuring a subordinate, Lieutenant Jessie
Robinson, to hire certain JPD officers to work special
events. Robinson said Wallace “told him to put certain
people on the list, ” and Wallace denied doing so. IAD
Finding [22-2]. As part of the investigation, JPD subjected
both Wallace and Robinson to polygraph examinations.
Polygraph Rep. [17-3]. The findings suggested Robinson was
being truthful and Wallace was not. Id. Chief Vance
responded by reassigning Wallace to a Lieutenant position.
Vance Letter [17-4].
believing the reassignment was actually a demotion motived by
her race and gender, filed a charge of discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). After receiving notice of her right to
sue, she filed the instant lawsuit against the City of
Jackson and Chief Vance in his individual capacity. She
asserts claims of race discrimination, sex discrimination,
and retaliation, invoking Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
and the Equal Protection clause. Defendants moved for summary
judgment as to all claims, and Wallace responded in
opposition. The Court has personal and subject-matter
jurisdiction over the dispute and is prepared to rule.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(a) when evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. The rule “mandates the
entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery
and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323.
The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324 (citation omitted). In reviewing the
evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor
of the nonmovant, “but only when . . . both parties
have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.”
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory facts exist,
the court may “not make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). Conclusory
allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic arguments have never constituted an adequate
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); Little, 37 F.3d at
1075; SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir.
Complaint, Wallace advances claims of race discrimination,
sex discrimination, and retaliation against the City of
Jackson and Chief Vance in his individual capacity. Am.
Compl.  at 1. The Court will address the retaliation and
discrimination claims in turn, as well as the concepts of
municipal liability and qualified immunity.
says Defendants demoted her “in retaliation for
reporting misconduct by African-American male police
officers” and “for reporting that an
African-American male police officer allegedly assaulted a
female JPD employee in her home.” Am. Compl.  at
12. But Defendants did not address retaliation in their
motion for summary judgment. When Wallace pointed this out in
her response, Defendants argued in reply that she cannot make
out a prima facie case. Resp.  at 1 n.1; Reply  at
7-8. But the Court will not consider arguments raised for the
first time in reply. See Gillaspy v. Dall. Indep. Sch.
Dist., 278 Fed.Appx. 307, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (“It
is the practice of . . . the district courts to refuse to
consider arguments raised for the first time in reply
briefs.” (citation omitted)). As a result,
Wallace's retaliation claim will proceed to trial, with
one qualifier. The Court notes that Wallace can assert a
retaliation claim only under Title VII; “the Equal
Protection Clause does not preclude workplace
retaliation.” Robinson v. Jackson Pub. Sch.
Dist., No. 3:08-CV-135-DPJ-FKB, 2011 WL 198127, at *5
(S.D.Miss. Jan. 20, 2011) (collecting cases).
and Sex Discrimination
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it “an
unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to
discriminate against any individual with respect to his
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).
And “when section 1983 is used as a parallel remedy
with Title VII in a racial discrimination suit the elements